Following Up

Last week, we attended our fertility clinic for a follow-up to our disappointing IVF cycle.

I had absolutely no clue what to expect from this appointment, and a quick trip around the infertility message boards revealed this to be a common thing with lots and lots of posts asking what exactly would be covered. It seemed to me that we knew exactly what happened, and I couldn’t imagine what we’d get out of the appointment that we couldn’t perhaps get out of a phone conversation.

But I was put in to a bit of a spin by a phone call a few weeks back, in the immediate aftermath of our early miscarriage. The lovely nurse on the end of the phone (after enquiring how I was doing – which prompted the response “how do you think I’m doing?”) told me that our case had been discussed in a clinical review meeting. She stated the conclusion (“early miscarriage” – well, duh!) and the said it was advised that we attend a follow-up appointment. That would all have been fine had an earlier phone call from a different lovely nurse not informed us that the clinical review meeting was happening, and said that they would suggest a follow-up if they felt there were things that needed to be discussed. She implied that if everything was straightforward, there might be little point.

Given that I knew, to my mind,exactly what had happened, I couldn’t imagine there was much more to say and so the invitation to this consultation immediately made me think they’d discovered some other over-looked issue, or that they really thought another cycle wasn’t a good idea.

I’ll be honest: this latter thought may well have contributed to my resolve that we were not attempting IVF again. I think a part of me wanted that to be my decision, not something we were “advised”.

Of course, when we got there on a bright spring afternoon, with the sun streaming through the windows and landing right in to our laps, our lovely consultant said nothing of the sort. Once he began to go through things, it made perfect sense to me why we were there.

The opportunity to actually discuss everything – not just clinical aspects such as the medications and how and why the embryos developed as they did, but also aspects like the organisation of the cycle and how we’d felt – was invaluable. We had the last appointment of the day, but over ran by a not inconsiderable margin.

In the course of the appointment my practical concerns about trying again (Can we get more sperm? Will we have the same outcome?) were addressed with some reality (possibly not, and maybe) but also some concrete plans of things we could do differently. Things that would potentially increase our chances based on what was learned from this first cycle.

We learned more about some is the subtler aspects of male factor infertility, and how they may have influenced the outcome,which made things clearer in my head and made it feel much less like a failure, and much more like the hand that fate dealt us.

It was a useful and productive hour of our lives, but one that seemed to add fuel to the “try-again” fire already beginning to burn inside me.

All we stand to lose is yet more money.

And what we stand to gain is priceless.


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